Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.
5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor Him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead. Romans 14:1-9 (NLT)
If I were going to subtitle this post, the subtitle would be Mind Your Own Business. That being said, I hope you completed your assignment yesterday. I hope you were able to figure out who, at your church, is weak in the faith and who is strong.
Before we check the list, you MUST understand two things.
Paul is not writing about following the explicit rules. There’s no suggestion that anyone in the body of Christ should turn a blind eye to another believer who participates in adultery, is dishonest, or who verbalizes or acts out in hatred. Sadly, we fear “judging” those individuals. If a believer is breaking the rules, the explicit rules, you and I need not judge that individual—the rules judge him or her—and that person is guilty.
Paul isn’t talking about being soft on God’s rules.
Another import point to understand, as I mentioned yesterday, this passage isn’t about theology. Paul, himself, wasn’t above name calling when the Galatian believers’ theology went wrong. Let’s be clear. There is one God and one way for humanity to reach Him—Jesus. To keep this post neat, check out The Apostle’s Creed. The items listed in that creed are not up for debate.
What does that leave us with? The explicit rules and the explicit descriptions of God, His character, Christ and the Holy Spirit aside and you have…well…life. How the believer lives life is the believers business. That sounds snarky, doesn’t it? It’s true—because you and I can’t know our spiritual brother’s or sister’s motives.
Now, take a minute and reflect on the lists you came up with yesterday.
If you made it on the “strong in the faith” list, I have some news that’s going to make you sad. If you are one who feels you belong on the “weak in the faith” list I have good news for you! Remember, I told you yesterday we needed to dissect and understand this. Let me ask you a question, in a debate (if that’s too formal for you, an argument) when is it that you feel strong? As a master-debater, I’ll answer that for you, it’s when you think you’re arguing the “right or correct” side of the argument. In that instance, in your mind, the person opposing you is “weak and wrong.”
So, what do you think the “weak” person thinks about the side he or she is defending? I’m going to tell you, this really convicted me. Looking closely at this passage, as a strong person with a keen sense of justice and blurry sense of mercy, I had to seek forgiveness. If pressed for an answer to the question, “Why are you________” or “Why are you doing _________?” the weaker believer will probably answer, “Because I’m trying to do what’s right.”
In reality, the strong and the weak have the same objective. In the culture of the time, Paul used the debates of diet and Holy Day observance. I wonder what Paul would write about if he sent a letter your church, to my church, to the Church of the 21st century, or to you.
Father, help me check my own motives. Help me examine my own behavior. Make me quick to seek repentance when I violate Your laws. Help me be gracious and merciful to those I deem “weak in faith.” Help me to mind my own business—to be loving and gracious. Please, make me like You!
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